This is a great, easy and refreshing German Cucumber Salad that’s something a little different to the usual. Called Gurkensalat, it’s a staple side salad in every household in Germany. It’s particularly favoured during the warmer weather for its cooling effects, as well as making a perfect accompaniment to counter hearty, rib-sticking German food such as Pork Knuckle.
Snapshot: German Cucumber Salad
You’ll find versions of this cucumber salad in every household in Germany, and in many German restaurants around the world. It comes in both non-creamy (oil-and-vinegar) versions as well as creamy versions like this one I’m sharing. It’s an excellent summer salad, and to serve alongside rich, meaty heavy mains.
Tastes like: Juicy, creamy, and a little tangy. Refreshing and cooling, with a clean and neutral flavour.
Perfect as: Summer side salad, or a base to build a stand-alone, light salad meal (eg. top with hot-smoked trout or eel, ham, fried bacon, or white anchovies)
Effort level: Low, especially if you have a mandoline!
Storage: Keeps 2 days in the fridge
What goes in German Cucumber Salad
Here’s what you need to make this:
Cucumbers – This is best made using the long English / telegraph cucumbers. These are less watery and have slightly firmer flesh than the shorter Lebanese cucumbers which are more common in Australia. They hold up better once dressed.
If you can’t find English / telegraph cucumbers, use 4 Lebanese cucumbers instead (no need to peel these, the skin is softer);
Sour cream – Full-fat is best, because the cucumber juices will dilute the creamy dressing. However low-fat works just fine too. You can also substitute thick plain yogurt;
Vinegar – Just plain-old white distilled vinegar; and
Dill – The fresh aniseed-y flavour really makes it! So don’t skip it! Alternatives: Chives will add a nice refreshing oniony touch, mint will also go very well, else parsley for a more neutral flavour. Coriander / cilantro will give it a great Middle Eastern spin (I’d probably add a squeeze of lemon and touch of garlic too).
How to make German Cucumber Salad
Peel and finely slice cucumbers – It’s best to peel English / telegraph cucumbers because the skin is a bit thick and tough. It just gives the salad a better overall texture, otherwise you have the slightly tougher skin mingling with the soft flesh. It also looks lovely with the pale green of the flesh only!
If you’re using Lebanese cucumbers, there is no need to peel them because the skin is softer (feel free to, however).
Finely slicing – A mandoline will make short work of this. This is the one I have – I’ve been loyal to it for my entire cooking life, I love it. Otherwise, show off your knife skills!
Mix dressing – Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl, then toss cucumbers in the dressing. The dressing is initially quite thick, as shown below, but it will thin out in the next step; and
Leave for 4 hours+ – Set salad aside to let the cucumbers sweat and soften with the salt and acid from the dressing, like a very light pickling. The cucumber juice also thins the dressing so what started out as a thick and rich sour cream dressing ends up as a thin, Coleslaw-like white dressing which is refreshing rather than cloying.
What to serve with German Cucumber Salad
Such a clean-tasting, refreshing salad like this excellent served alongside rich or meat-heavy mains such as roasts. The cooling, creamy taste also couples perfectly with barbecued foods, so bring it along as part of a BBQ spread on hot summer days.
I’m sharing it as a suggested side for the Crispy German Pork Knuckle that I published on Monday as part of this week’s German-themed recipes. Pair it with the German Potato Salad I also shared today for a big Bavarian feast!! – Nagi x
German Cucumber Salad
- 2 English / telegraph cucumbers (ie. long cucumbers. Sub 4 x Lebanese cucumbers, Note 1)
- 1/2 cup sour cream (sub plain, thick yogurt)
- 1 tbsp white vinegar (plain distilled vinegar)
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp fresh dill , finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- Peel cucumbers and finely slice into 2mm / 0.2" slices using a mandoline (or by hand and show off your knife skills!)
- Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
- Toss cucumbers with dressing, then set aside for at least 4 hours or even overnight. The cucumbers will soften and leach juice which will thin the dressing to the right consistency.
- Serving: Toss well then transfer to bowl for serving. Serve chilled for the most refreshing flavour!
More fresh and zesty salads
Life of Dozer
Annual vaccination time! He’s such a sook when it comes to needles – bit like his Mama. 😂